The penultimate Geva Theater production of the 2021/2022 season is a futuristic techno comedy that immerses audiences in sunny California culture of fitness, yoga, spiritual gurus and their intersection with today’s brand. , focused on social media. -obsessed world. “Yoga Play” deals with themes that are familiar to all of us, trying to navigate an increasingly online and consumerist world, and does so with plenty of laughs and thought for the audience.
“Yoga Play” is a 2017 play by Calcutta-born playwright Dipika Guha, an emerging voice in the modern theater space whose upbringing in India, Russia and the UK has influenced all of her work, and in particular this piece. In “Yoga Play,” Joan (Andrea Cirie) has been hired to stabilize yoga apparel giant Jojomon after its CEO (Christopher Gurr) is taken down by a fat-shaming scandal. But just as she finds her groove, other problems arise and sales plummet. Joan comes up with a plan so risky it could make or break the company and his career – and what he demands of his CFO, Raj (Rishan Dhamija), goes far beyond the call of duty. This sharp comedy asks what it takes to find your own authenticity in a world bent on selling enlightenment.
For me, the most effective and enjoyable theater — or any storytelling, really — is one that encases provocative and thought-provoking thematic material in humorous and entertaining bubble wrap. In “Yoga Play”, Dipika Guha does it beautifully. At a glance, this could almost pass for a wacky, slapstick workplace comedy starring two incompetent employees (Dhamija and Ricky Pak, who plays Fred) and their overbearing boss, who has been the architecture of the workplace. countless television sitcoms. Pay closer attention and you’ll find that Guha explores such broad issues as cultural appropriation, the degenerative effects of marketing and branding, capitalism, and the search for authenticity in a world determined to sell enlightenment.
Geva Theater’s production of “Yoga Play” is wonderfully performed, with jaw-dropping comedic performances from Rishan Dhamija and Ricky Pak – who have great on-stage chemistry – Andrea Cirie as a formidable and often intimidating corporate presence, and the truly cringe-worthy performance of Cornell’s Jeffrey Blair Guruji, a very intentional statement about cultural appropriation.
As usual, Geva spared no expense (figuratively and, perhaps, literally) with the production design of Yoga Play, which provides audiences with a tech-infused multimedia experience that transports the viewer into a world straddling Zen and Zoom. It’s truly masterful work by set designer Ann Beyersdirfer, set designer Lisa Renkel and lighting designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew.
“Yoga Play” is a refreshingly unique and quite humorous look at our increasingly image-obsessed world. He plays on the Wilson stage in Geva until June 5th.